The family of a Texas woman who died from a brain hemorrhage has filed a lawsuit against Arlington Memorial Hospital, where she first received emergency care. On December 14, the healthy 32-year-old mother of two young children suffered a seizure in her home. Her husband called 911, and she was taken to the hospital. According to the lawsuit, a CT scan clearly showed signs of brain bleeding, yet the woman was diagnosed with a sinus infection and migraine, sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and was told it was probably work-related stress. Later that day, the woman suffered another seizure at home, and then another on her way to a different hospital. Thirty minutes into that trip, the woman was pronounced brain dead; she was taken off life support the following day. The lawsuit contends that the brain aneurism could have been treated if it had been diagnosed. In addition to Arlington Memorial, the suit also names an ER doctor and a neurologist of multiple medical malpractice errors.
The family faces an uphill battle thanks to the state’s damage caps and other restrictions on patients’ legal rights. Texas not only places limits on how much victims and their families can recover in a Texas medical malpractice lawsuit, but it is one of few states where emergency room doctors cannot be held accountable for failure to diagnose, failure to treat or wrong care. If you are negligently treated in the emergency room, the only way you can collect damages is if you are able to prove that the ER doctors acted with conscious indifference, or gross negligence, rather than simple negligence. Basically, unless doctors purposely desire to hurt a patient, they get a free pass; they cannot be held accountable for misdiagnosis or flat-out wrong care. Furthermore, the new law capped medical liability for non-economic damages at $250,000 per health care provider, with a maximum award of $750,000. For what purpose? To bring more doctors to Texas? To avoid accountability, leaving innocent victims with nothing? If you were driving drunk and slammed into another vehicle killing its driver, you would be held accountable for your negligence. Why should there be different rules of conduct to protect doctors for their negligence? Unfortunately Texans are unaware that their Legislature has mandated a very low, almost no, standard of care.
Tort reform is about capping recoveries in serious cases, where serious injuries have resulted from serious breaches of conduct. It has always been about limiting access to the courts and reducing awards in serious claims, like this case and countless others who have been shut out of the system by these anti-citizen crusades to bail out the wrongdoers. Why are we taking away the rights of innocent patients to simply benefit the insurance companies? The court system is about justice; it is about fairness; it is about you and your loved ones; it’s about your rights and theirs. Don’t find out the hard way – when you or someone you love becomes the victim. It’s time everyone gets educated and understands who really benefits from tort reform and who gets hurt.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.